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Million-Dollar, One-Person Businesses
This month 👾 Annual life review | How I approach my work | Biographies of great entrepreneurs | + loads more…
🆕 Personal Updates
Greeting from the year 2023.
I had an unapologetically unproductive holiday period, however, I did have a lot of time to think, rather than to consume and create which was surprisingly nice. How was yours?
Most of this week has been spent migrating the newsletter across to Substack due to Revue closing its door on the 18th Jan. So expect next months newsletter to come to you via Substack.
There are a few great advantages with Substack which align with the direction I want to take the newsletter, most notably the ability for further engagement with readers. This includes, commenting and a new feature in beta called ‘Chat’ which creates a social aspect to the content with real-time chat so readers like you can interact with other readers or me on content that interest you.
Right, let’s get to it - time for this month’s roundup 👇
🔥 Top post last month: Linus Lee Is Living With AI
Like most years, December and January are months when tech Twitter seems to go into overdrive with posts discussing goal setting, reviews of the current year’s goals and progress, annual life audits, yadda, yadda, yadda.
If you’re not prepared like me it can become pretty overwhelming and make you feel like everyone else is ready for the new year while I’m simply stuffing my face on the couch with Turkey leftovers wondering which series of Netflix I need to complete next.
However, when I find the time, I typically jump into Notion and reflect on the previous year, looking at some of my goals and planning ahead for the following year. Do I reach all of my goals, hell no! do I give most of them a good shot? pretty much.
In this post, David Spinks outlines a four-step process for reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the next year, including a habit audit and the concept of “Frog January”. He also provides a free template.
Have you ever met someone who cares so deeply about their work that when you talk to them you can feel the passion from their tone of voice and see it in their body language? The sort of person that will dedicate their lives to their passion. Better still, a person who has a mission in life and genuinely feels it will impact others. It’s rare and incredibly inspiring and I’m going to take a wild guess and assume most people won’t find this in their life, unfortunately. In this post, Alexander Obenauer discusses his passion for his independent research in software and how it can contribute to the graph of human knowledge.
I love his section titled ‘Contributing to the graph of human knowledge’ where he states his goal is:
…to be an additive medium through which I can contribute to the graph of human knowledge my humble little node which draws from many others before me, and from which maybe someone in the future can draw upon as they create theirs.“
Lastly, the above reminded me of this quote from the book titled ‘The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story’ about a tech entrepreneur called Jim Clark’:
A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and recreation and hardly knows which is which, he simply peruses his vision of excellence, through whatever his is doing and leaves other to determine whether he is working or playing, to himself he always appears to be doing both.
🎁 Bonus content: Check out Alexanders website and his membership model where you can support his research for a fee and in return get unique early access to his content and products. Based on the 50 members so far he mentions on this site he’s making ~$400-1k per month not including sponsors.
The genesis of Slack is widely known and discussed, but usually communicated by publications with little first-hand accounts of how it was born. For those of you who don’t know how Slack began, it started life as a multiplayer online role-playing game called ‘Glitch’ which later closed its doors due to lack of traction. With the little remaining investment they had left of the $10.7m they decided to bring an internal communication tool they created to market.
It’s one of those stories which are glamorised in tech and perhaps one of a few legendary hard pivots which turned into a unicorn. This is the story by Johnny Rodgers a product engineer/designer who was a founding member at Slack. In this post, he discusses his first-hand account of the wild but bountiful journey.
Are million-dollar one-person businesses possible? Do they eventually have to scale and bring on employees? and can they be sustained?
This post by Dru Riley (founder of Trends.vc) explores founders, predictions, opportunities and key lessons of million-dollar solo businesses. And no, before you think it, most of these founders mentioned aren’t influencers with a pre-existing audience - they started from the ground up.
🎁 Bonus content: 10 businesses that make millions with no employees by Aleksandr Volodarsky
One new year’s goal I have every year is to read more books. Most of the books I have sitting in an unopened pile are business biographies. I love them and can’t seem to get through enough of them - literally. Just a few days ago a friend of mine recommended the Founders podcast by David Senra. Each week he reads a biography of a great entrepreneur and consolidates the learnings into an hour’s worth of audio. I’ve listened to episodes about Steve Jobs, Peter Thiel and Paul Graham to name a few and I’m hooked. Personally, I would highly recommend listening to the 3 part edition of Paul Graham’s essays.
Here is a great quote by Marc Andreessen discussing why he loves reading biographies and I could agree more.
“There are thousands of years of history in which lots and lots of very smart people worked very hard and ran all types of experiments on how to create new businesses, invent new technology, new ways to manage etc. They ran these experiments throughout their entire lives. At some point, somebody put these lessons down in a book. For very little money and a few hours of time, you can learn from someone’s accumulated experience”
Personally, I think the UX of Google has depreciated over the years and tilted more and more towards pushing results from ads, not to mention the SEO hacking which promotes content that isn’t necessarily the best. Ok, rant over. Instead of being stuck with Google’s limited page previews, Waldo instantly deep scans each result and pulls out the useful parts in an easily skimmable, searchable format. Additionally, I gave their Lense feature a shot which gives you the power to bypass the noise and see higher-quality search results from a curated collection of sites I added. I can then can use these collections to refine my search criteria within specific industries.
🎁 Bonus content: Both the NIA boys and Jason Calacanis made a prediction for 2023 that Microsoft will use their investment in Open AI’s GTP AI model to power their search engine. Seems like this might be happening. Also, You.com is also another AI-based search engine with a chat-like interface to search.
I featured Arc back in issue 28 but now I can proudly say I’m all in and have fully migrated from Chrome and now use Arc as my default browser. In all honestly, it wasn’t a big move, Arc is built using Chromium so it has everything Chrome has and more. The migration took minutes and I haven’t looked back since.
So why I am so bullish on this new browser? Firstly, it just looks so slick and clean compared to other browsers due to them stripping back elements such as bookmarks and extensions and abstracting them away until you need them. They have a bunch of delightful features including the easel which allows you to sketch out ideas or annotate images and share them. Lastly, one of my personal favorites is the mini browser, which is so handy when clicking on links without it opening a new tab or opening a video and navigating away from the tab. There is so much still to discuss but in the meantime check this great in-depth review by Jermey Caplan or this recent video review by Shu Omi.
P.S their private Twitter account is great for behind-the-scenes glimpses of what they are working on next. Also if you want an invite to try Arc hit reply and the first two will an invite.
This month’s latest early access beta products brought to you by Beta Directory are:
Dead Design: Brining back your dead designs from the grave.
Quill: Imagine an app that is a combination of Typeform and Webflow.
Tome: AI-powered storytelling format that gives your work the edge it deserves.
👾 Friends of Creator Club
This month I want to give a shout-out to Miha - founder of Popsy - He’s doing some serious improvements to their website builder that combines everything that’s great about Notion + everything that’s missing. Like the ability to change fonts & colours, alignment, add navbar, buttons, icons, custom backgrounds and publish to a custom domain. Try it now for free by clicking here.
🐽 Other links to consume
🐦 Tweet of the month
After watching the Netflix series ‘Don’t F**k With Cat’s’ I had a new appreciation of how regular people can use technology to become citizen detectives without even having to leave their desks. This is one of these examples. John McElhone used off-the-shelve software to search for the ultra-secretive B-21 stealth bomber after the US Airforce provided the first images of it on Twitter recently. His thread breaks down how he found the location in a matter of hours and it’s not how you might have thought to approach such a task.
This month I’m going to leave you with this picture of the Simon Personal Communicator from 1993 which is considered the first smartphone. It blended the features of a PDA will a phone, including, a wireless facsimile machine (send/receive), pager, electronic mail, calendar, appointment scheduler, address book calculator and pen-based notepad/sketch pad all wrapped into an 18-ounce black brick. It retailed for $899 but only sold 50k units and was shortly pulled from the shelves of retailers.
That’s it for this month!
If you made it this far, hit reply and tell me what you thought of this newsletter. Was this 🔥 or 🗑. I read every response 👀
Until next month,
Sam | @thisdickie 👨💻